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FAQs - The New Occurrence Reporting Regulation in practice

Am I under a legal obligation to report events?

In one word: YES. The new regulation specifies a list of persons who shall report occurrences through the mandatory reporting schemes. This includes the pilot in command. The list is not limited to employees of organisations, but also extends to persons whose services are contracted (e.g. commercial, private, self-employed pilots, etc.).

What if I don’t report?

You have a legal obligation to report occurrences in which you have been directly involved or aware of. Furthermore, reporting is a way to identify hazards and prevent incidents and accidents. Not reporting is not only illegal but also highly unprofessional and may put you, your colleagues and your passengers at risk.

Where / to whom do I report?

You can continue to report directly to your airline. If that is not possible, you can also report directly to your national authorities and to the European Aviation Safety Agency, which shall establish a mandatory reporting scheme.

What should I report?

Events to be reported under the mandatory reporting systems are those that may represent a significant risk to aviation safety. The regulation specifies two separate but complementary reporting systems: a mandatory & a voluntary one. Implementing Regulation 2015/1018 provides the list of occurrences to be mandatorily reported (including fatigue and fume events, among others). Outside the list of mandatory occurrences, the regulation encourages reporting through the voluntary reporting system for all other issues perceived as a threat to the aviation system.

What if two potential reporters witness the same event? Do we both have to report?

In some situations, several reporters might witness the same event. The key rule is that if the reporters do not belong to the same category of reporters (e.g. pilots vs. ground handling), or are employed by different companies (e.g. different airlines), they should all report.

What is the deadline for reporting?

An event must be reported within 72 hours after witnessing it or being involved in it, or when you realise you made a mistake. This is the general rule for mandatory reporting events unless “exceptional circumstances prevent this”.

Is there a new form & format for reporting?

Apart from some mandatory fields, the regulation does not impose a specific format for individual reports. Please use your company’s reporting form.

Is my report confidential? Is it anonymous?

Your report is not anonymous, but it will be kept confidential. The regulation requires the companies to take all necessary measures to ensure the appropriate confidentiality of the details of the event. Furthermore, Member States and EASA are not allowed to store any names or personal details in their national database. Organisations are even encouraged not to include names and personal details when transferring occurrences reports to the competent authority.
Information derived from occurrence reports can only be used for the purpose of safety.

Can my report be used against me?

One of the key characteristics of this regulation is that it prides itself for providing stricter protection for reporters and a ‘Just Culture’ environment, which encourages reporting. It includes a number of provisions for preventing any use against the reporter and all people mentioned in the report. It does not, however, provide immunity to persons in case of gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts.

Although this regulation is an EU law applicable by all EU Member States, it cannot overrule national criminal law. So even with the protections in place, prosecution might be possible. Therefore, Member States must ensure that their NAA and their competent authorities for the administration of justice cooperate with each other through advance administrative arrangements. These advance administrative arrangements shall seek to ensure the correct balance between the need for proper administration of justice, on the one hand, and the necessary continuous availability of safety information, on the other.

Under what conditions can information on occurrences be used or made available?

Information derived from occurrence reports can only be used for the purpose for which it has been collected (i.e. safety). It cannot be shared or used in order to attribute blame or liability or for any purpose other than the maintenance or improvement of aviation safety.

What can I do if I am subject to prejudice from my employer on the basis of a report?

Every Member State shall put in place an entity to receive and analyse those cases where organisations or authorities may infringe the protection principles and obligations provided by the Regulation. The Regulation allows individuals to report to that body any alleged infringement.

The Regulation also ensures that employees and contracted personnel are not penalised for reporting alleged infringements.

What is the role of my pilot association?

The regulation clearly stipulates that staff representatives shall be consulted before adopting internal rules describing how ‘Just Culture’ principles are guaranteed and implemented within the organisation. Moreover your pilot association will be able to support and assist you in case of non-adherence to these principles.

Source: European Cockpit Association

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Tags: Just Culture, SMS, Cockpit Flash

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